Putin demands respect for Russia's interests

MOSCOW, April 16: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the West must respect Russia's interests if it wants to normalize diplomatic relations.

Putin said Thursday during a televised call-in show that the United States "doesn't need allies, they only need vassals." He said Russia would never accept that role and urged the West to take Russian interests into account.

Russia-West ties have plummeted to post-Cold War lows amid the Ukrainian crisis. The U.S. and the European Union have slapped Russia with sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

Putin said that "it's useless and senseless to put pressure on Russia using those means."

He said Russia remains ready to normalize ties with the West, and doesn't consider any nation its enemy.


2 p.m. (1100 GMT; 7 a.m. EDT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the killing of top opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was "tragic and shameful."

Nemtsov was shot dead on Feb. 27 just outside the Kremlin. Putin, speaking in a live television call-in show Thursday, praised the Russian law-enforcement agencies for nabbing the suspected perpetrators days after the killing.

He said, however, that he doesn't know if it will be possible to track down the mastermind.

The five suspects, all of them Chechens, have remained in custody. Observers say their arrest has highlighted tensions between Russian law-enforcement agencies and Chechnya's Kremlin-backed strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov.


1:50 p.m. (1050 GMT; 6:50 a.m. EDT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of violating its obligations under a peace deal by maintaining an economic blockade on rebellious eastern regions.

He said Thursday during a live televised call-in show that Ukraine hasn't delivered pensions and other social payments to people in the east and has shut financial services to the region.

Putin argued that by acting in such way, the Ukrainian leadership is effectively cutting off the eastern regions from the rest of the country. At the same time, the Russian president insisted that he remains committed to cooperating with the Ukrainian president to overcome the crisis, adding that the Minsk agreement signed in February provides the only way out of the crisis.


1:20 p.m. (1020 GMT; 6:20 a.m. EDT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended his move to approve the delivery of the long-range S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, saying the 2010 Russian ban was voluntary.

Speaking in a televised call-in show Thursday, he said his decision this week to lift the ban doesn't contradict international sanctions against Iran, which are still in place despite a framework agreement reached earlier this month between Iran and six world powers over its nuclear program.

He said he made the move because Iran "has shown a great degree of flexibility and a desire to reach compromise." He said the S-300 is a defensive weapon that shouldn't pose any threat to Israel, and may in fact serve as "a deterrent factor in connection with the situation in Yemen." (Source: AP)

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